Letter from the CEO: 2021 Retrospective

Happy New Year! While the AVANT team is already full steam ahead on our 2022 goals, I think it’s important to take a moment to reflect on all of the great things we accomplished in the past year. 2021 was a pivotal year for AVANT and started off strong as we continued to ride the wave of digital transformation and momentum of 2020. Our big theme this past year was “Evolocity” – where evolution meets velocity, what AVANT has always been about. With Evolocity at the forefront of all decisions, we had a very successful and exciting year.

2021 was full of growth – we welcomed new talent and expanded our team along with a strategic growth investment that validated our future vision of continuing to do what we do best: powering our Trusted Advisors forward. As I look back on all of the accomplishments and fun we had in 2021, I know none of this would be possible without our incredible AVANT team and our valued Trusted Advisors.

As we kick off the new year, here’s a recap of 2021’s initiatives and accomplishments at AVANT:

Investment in the Future of AVANT

In 2021, we achieved a significant milestone when we announced a strategic growth investment from Pamlico Capital to drive further expansion and scale for our business and that of the Trusted Advisor. With this investment, we’ll be able to advance our customer support, grow our research and analytics department, level up tech decision-making with the next generation of Pathfinder, expand our presence globally, and provide direct financial support to help our Trusted Advisors grow.

The interest and investment from Pamlico were validation that we’ve built something great. Over the last two years, we’ve experienced 62% employee growth and in 2021, we were named one of the Chicago Tribune’s Top Workplaces. The future of AVANT is bright, and Drew and I can’t wait for what’s to come. Check out my interview with Channel Futures for the 7 ways we plan to accelerate our investment in the channel.

Special Forces Summit and Bootcamps Make a Return

With COVID-19 protocols in place, we were finally able to gather in person again for our fourth annual Special Forces Summit in late September! With 700 in-person attendees and an additional 500 virtual who spent an average of five hours watching our live stream, the AVANT team pulled off quite a feat after our successful 2020 Virtual Special Forces event. Check out a 2-minute recap here, and you can also find all the amazing keynotes and breakout sessions in the AVANT Pathfinder Learning Hub.

The 2021 Special Forces Summit received a 91 NPS from live attendees with 97% saying Summit will increase their sales and 53% saying it will meaningfully increase sales. The three-day event covered discussions about exploding areas of opportunity like security, with 74% of attendees saying they will be more likely to engage in security opportunities because of the time spent at Special Forces. And we can’t forget to mention the non-industry keynotes from Jesse Itzler, Kevin Brown, and Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour that were so impactful, as well as the closing party with Walker Hayes that was “Fancy Like”-tastic. Can’t wait to see how our marketing team tops this year, but they always seem to raise the bar.

AVANT Bootcamp training events were also back, with full-day agendas led by our expert Sales Engineering team. Trusted Advisors joined us in Denver, Southern California, Texas, and Chicago to raise their skills in security, UCaas, CCaaS, managed cloud infrastructure, and more.

We are excited to be together again in 2022 for more training events and our fifth Special Forces on September 19-21!

Powering Trusted Advisors Forward

AVANT wouldn’t be where we are today without our powerful network of Trusted Advisors, and we invested in their success more than ever in 2021. Early in the year, to demonstrate our commitment to our Trusted Advisors, we launched our Trusted Advisor Academy Certification Program. We’ve added even more certifications since then to arm our Trusted Advisors with the knowledge to educate and guide their customers on next generation technology decisions. In less than a year, nearly 1,000 Trusted Advisors have achieved a certification in one of seven possible categories.

To meet the constant change in technology, we’ve also doubled down on our investment in Pathfinder, Sales Engineering and Pricing Teams, and it’s working! In 2021, our top 50 partners who leveraged all three of these resources on a regular basis generated 10.2 times more revenue compared to partners not using the tools.

We’ve continued to make significant investments in Pathfinder, our advanced platform for IT decision-making, with the launch of Cable Quote, a powerful tool for your customer’s cable needs. Our very popular AVANT Dynamic Matrices has expanded to 23 categories with matrices like UCaaS with Microsoft Teams, SASE, and our interactive Quick Assessments (IQAs) now have 22 assessments to choose from, including a new Mobility and new Managed Public Cloud, providing Trusted Advisors targeted and content-rich information to help quickly narrow down the best fit solution to match their customer’s needs. The AVANT Sales Engineers that help power these impactful Pathfinder features with their knowledge and expertise achieved an incredible 95 NPS and are a true time multiplier for our Trusted Advisors.

AVANT Sales Engineers are the best there is in the channel and some of our most sought-after resources, helping Trusted Advisors move opportunities forward. We continued to invest in our Sales Engineering team by hiring 3 more rockstars, Chris Brennan, James Christian, and Dave Watson, and we have open positions to add to this talented team. Rounding out our Partner Support services, the Pricing analyst team has grown significantly this year while also achieving a 94 NPS. I’m quite proud of this team and the high level of rapid and accurate service they provide for our Trusted Advisors.

AVANT Research and Analytics published two 6-12 Reports in 2021 on CCaaS and SASE which Trusted Advisors can use as co-branded materials for their clients. The reports explore emerging technologies as well as where the market is heading in the next six to twelve months. A impactful resource as Trusted Advisors guide their customers to better technology decisions and provide AVANT the opportunity to offer advice to decision makers more broadly through publications like VentureBeat.

Lastly, we launched a brand-new loyalty program called Pinnacle, with four unique levels of benefits ranging from $25K in MRR sales to $250K MRR in sales. If you’re a new partner with AVANT or just ramping up your sales, there are special incentives that earn you accelerated access to AVANT Signature Events or AVANT’s highly coveted President’s Club. In 2021, our President’s Club was back with a fun-filled and beautiful trip to Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, and plans are underway for another world-class destination in 2022 as only AVANT can deliver. You can track your Pinnacle progress within Pathfinder as you climb your way to the Pinnacle of success!

AVANT Trusted Advisors Continue to Produce Great Results

Our rapidly growing network of Trusted Advisors hit significant milestones this past year. With evolving needs for end customers, Trusted Advisors entered uncharted territory in 2021 and through hard work and dedication came out on top. As remote work continues to power business forward, UCaaS became AVANT’s Trusted Advisors’ #1 sold service, overtaking connectivity for the very first time in AVANT’s history. In 2021, AVANT was the first partner to hit $1 million in MRR with Zoom and is still the number one partner with millions sold.

While connectivity and UCaaS continues to grow at strong double digits in billed commissioning revenue, CCaaS grew at an amazing 70% year over year with some of the largest deals the industry has ever seen, including several in the hundreds of thousands in MRR. There is no one better than the resources at AVANT to help you win and grow your CCaaS business. AVANT is agile and ready for whatever new changes and opportunities might come our way.

It was a great pleasure to recognize the most successful Trusted Advisors and vendors with our Fourth Annual Summit Awards during our 2021 Special Forces Summit event. Looking to know what it takes to be up on stage next year? See Special Forces Keynote presentation where I recap the 7 principles of the most successful Trusted Advisors and the 4 key principles of EVOLOCITY needed for today’s fast-changing market.

What’s Next?

We’re so grateful for the great AVANT employees and partners that lean in with us as we keep pushing the industry forward. As we carry progress into 2022, I see big things on the horizon, including a leading security practice, accelerating our rapid growth in CCaaS, and making major investments in Pathfinder. Our engineering teams are hard at work behind the scenes to bring innovation to the world of IT decision-making.

At Special Forces, Drew made some bold predictions for 2022 in Summit keynote, such as, 1) the average AVANT partner will do $100K MRR in yearly sales, 2) seeing the 1st $5M MRR deal from the channel, and 3) security will rise to the top 3 position in annual sales. AVANT is committed to helping the channel achieve these ambitious goals with our investments, people, and resources.

We hope to see you at our fifth annual Special Forces Summit coming up on September 19-21! The rate of change continues to accelerate and we’re proud to say we’re not just keeping pace but staying steps ahead of anticipated evolution. AVANT is committed to supporting our community, Trusted Advisors, and employees, so charity donations, ongoing innovation, and hiring will remain a top focus for 2022. Stay tuned for more Evolocity from AVANT as our Pathfinder platform, people, and resources drive continued success and growth for our Trusted Advisor ecosystem. 2022 is looking to be even bigger and we can’t wait to see where the year takes us.

Ian Kieninger

Ian Kieninger